Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements

Brown, A.G. et al. (2021) Ancient DNA, lipid biomarkers and palaeoecological evidence reveals construction and life on early medieval lake settlements. Scientific Reports, 11, 11807. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-91057-x) (PMID:34083588) (PMCID:PMC8175756)

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Direct evidence of ancient human occupation is typically established through archaeological excavation. Excavations are costly and destructive, and practically impossible in some lake and wetland environments. We present here an alternative approach, providing direct evidence from lake sediments using DNA metabarcoding, steroid lipid biomarkers (bile acids) and from traditional environmental analyses. Applied to an early Medieval Celtic settlement in Ireland (a crannog) this approach provides a site chronology and direct evidence of human occupation, crops, animal farming and on-site slaughtering. This is the first independently-dated, continuous molecular archive of human activity from an archeological site, demonstrating a link between animal husbandry, food resources, island use. These sites are under threat but are impossible to preserve in-situ so this approach can be used, with or without excavation, to produce a robust and full site chronology and provide direct evidence of occupation, the use of plants and animals, and activities such as butchery.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The core through the southern crannog (FER 211:064) was granted by the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service under Licence Number AE/16/18. This research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK (Grant no. AH/M005259/1) with additional logistic support from the Department of Communities, Northern Ireland and the landowner Lord Belmore.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Whitehouse, Professor Nicki
Authors: Brown, A.G., Van Hardenbroek, M., Fonville, T., Davies, K., Mackay, H., Murray, E., Head, K., Barratt, P., McCormick, F., Ficetola, G.F., Gielly, L., Henderson, A.C.G., Crone, A., Cavers, G., Langdon, P.G., Whitehouse, N. J., Pirrie, D., and Alsos, I.G.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 11:11807
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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